freedom through “I”

(lotta ice, lotta snow, lotta wind)

I, that is, “I”, want to follow up on that discussion of the first person that excited me so much in reading Zadie Smith. I think of my dear friend, Leigh, when I write this, because she mentions over and over that what she wants to offer, through her art, is freedom. And Zadie Smith articulates a description of that permission, permission for such freedom, which she received from others. Which so influenced her work. Which opened the doors for her.

Again, to see if I can pass on this idea that moved me?

Zadie Smith proposes that when we think of an artist or writer – someone we don’t know personally – we tend to see that person as that art, or as that person in the novel. (ex. Rothko painting = Rothko; “I”, Portnoy = Philip Roth). She has nailed me there; of course that’s how I think. She then goes on to propose: because of the “I”, whom we assume is also the writer/artist, they capture us. We believe those artists. Those writers. And then – they can offer worlds which are ahead of ours, more spacious, more inclusive, more… well, more open.

In her words:

(The writer) had written things down that seem unsayable, impossible, and in taking that freedom for himself… passed that freedom down.

And later:

I am aware… that remarkable acts of art-making – bold, perverse, unbeholden, free – have had the side effect of changing the weather in a country, in a people, in a certain historical moment, and finally in me, conferring freedoms for which I now am very grateful.

Whew! Who can more eloquently argue for the power of art? “Conferring freedoms”.

So, yes, I head down to DC tomorrow to the Stimson Gallery. Leaving the white landscape behind temporarily. In order to hang some of my art, “my art” – to offer to viewers in the capitol.